*This review includes minor spoilers. There are warning signs before and after the spoiler.
Title: Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Ava Dellaira
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Synopsis: “It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person.
Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven’t forgiven?
It’s not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was—lovely and amazing and deeply flawed—can she truly start to discover her own path.”
Our main character is Laurel whose family is -kind of- falling apart. Her dad and mom aren’t together anymore, she stays with her aunt -sometimes- and her best friend, her idol—her sister is dead (though we don’t know the reason) She decides to go to a different school, not the one her middle school friends go to, to avoid questions about her sister May’s death.
“I think it’s like when you lose something so close to you, it’s like losing yourself. That’s why at the end, it’s hard for her to write even. She can hardly remember how. Because she barely knows what she is anymore.”
Laurel always looked up to her sister, May. May was beautiful, talented, kind, energetic and elegant—perfect, even. She was the one Laurel always found comfort and happiness with. So when May dies, Laurel loses the purpose of almost everything. She becomes this naive girl who doesn’t know anything, even the simplest thing.
Laurel’s naivety didn’t become disturbing for me, unlike some people who thought she acted like a 8-year old. I think it should be expected, she lost her sister and her mother left, she doesn’t have proper talks with her dad and her Aunt Amy is a completely different story so she doesn’t have anyone left to talk to. This is why she finds everything about high school magnificent, in my opinion. The way she describes Tristan, Kristen, Natalie and Hannah is always—well, not always, but most of the time, positive.
What made this book super amazing for me was the music and the quotes and the themes. I have to admit that the only Nirvana song I know is Smells Like Teen Spirit, I have never listened to their songs (I’m listening to Heart Shaped Box right now, if that counts) but I do love Amy Winehouse and I can tell that May and Laurel have great tastes in music. The quotes and the themes were all somehow relatable to me, when it got to “growing up” and “making the most of your life” or “being alone when you are actually surrounded by people”.
“I think a lot of people want to be someone, but we are scared that if we try, we won’t be as good as everyone imagines we could be.”
“I thought about how I tried so hard to be brave this year. But maybe I’ve been getting it wrong the whole time. Because there’s a difference between the kind of risk that could make you burn away and the kind you took. The kind that makes you show up in the world.”
I think my favorite thing about this book was Tristan and Kristen. I loved how they “adopted” Natalie, Hannah and Laurel when they met each other at school, and I loved how they gave lessons about music and real life to Laurel. And after Kristen got her acceptance letter from Columbia, their relationship didn’t take a sharp turn. They tried to make the most of it, because they knew they were going to have to split up at one point; and there was something tragically beautiful about that.
“‘Experiencing us is like having the fountain of youth.’ My intention is that it will always be that way, as long as we live. We’ll get old, but my intention is that we’ll never sell out. That we’ll never get too old to remember who we are right now, together.”
The thing with Sky was a bit predictable though. *shakes head*
Well, this is it. I simply loved this book and my pink sticky notes are now about to end because of the amount I used in this book. At least they didn’t go to waste.
“Nirvana means freedom. Freedom from suffering. I guess some people would say that death is just that. So, congratulations on being free, I guess. The rest of us are still here, grappling with all that’s been torn up.”